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Commonly Abused Drugs National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

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03/25/2015
02:21 | Author: Brandon Powell

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Commonly Abused Drugs National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

While drinking alcohol is itself not necessarily a problem – drinking too much can cause a range of consequences, and increase your risk for a variety of problems. For more information on alcohol’s effects on the body, please see the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s related web page describing alcohol’s effects on the body.

An emerging family of drugs containing one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, a stimulant found naturally in the Khat plant. Examples of such chemicals include mephedrone, methylone, and 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). For more information, see the Bath Salts DrugFacts.

Marijuana is made from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. The main psychoactive (mind-altering) chemical in marijuana is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. For more information, see the Marijuana Research Report.

A depressant approved for use in the treatment of narcolepsy, a disorder that causes daytime “sleep attacks.” For more information, see the Club Drugs DrugFacts.

A dissociative drug used as an anesthetic in veterinary practice. Dissociative drugs are hallucinogens that cause the user to feel detached from reality. For more information, see the Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs Research Report.

Medications that increase alertness, attention, energy, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate. For more information, see the Prescription Drug Abuse Research Report.

Alcohol’s effects vary from person to person, depending on a variety of factors, including:

Medications that slow brain activity, which makes them useful for treating anxiety and sleep problems. For more information, see the Prescription Drug Abuse Research Report.

An opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. For more information, see the Heroin Research Report.

A synthetic drug producing intense but relatively short-lived hallucinogenic experiences; also naturally occurring in some South American plants (See Ayahuasca). For more information, see the Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs Research Report.

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Get more information on Emerging Trends, we will update this page with the latest research findings as they develop.

Man-made substances used to treat conditions caused by low levels of steroid hormones in the body and abused to enhance athletic and sexual performance and physical appearance. For more information, see the Anabolic Steroid Abuse Research Report.

NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health.

This page was last updated February 2015.

A hallucinogen in certain types of mushrooms that grow in parts of South America, Mexico, and the United States. For more information, see the Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs Research Report.

A hallucinogen manufactured from lysergic acid, which is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. LSD is an abbreviation of the scientific name, l ysergic acid diethylamide. For more information, see the Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs Research Report.

A hallucinogen found in disk-shaped “buttons” in the crown of several cacti, including peyote. For more information, see the Hallucinogens – LSD, Peyote, Psilocybin, and PCP DrugFacts.

A wide variety of herbal mixtures containing man-made cannabinoid chemicals related to THC in marijuana but often much stronger and more dangerous. Sometimes misleadingly called “synthetic marijuana” and marketed as a “natural,” "safe," legal alternative to marijuana. For more information, see the Spice (“Synthetic Marijuana”) DrugFacts.

In the chart, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) schedule indicates the drug’s acceptable medical use and its potential for abuse or dependence. More information can be found on the DEA website. For more comprehensive information about treatment options for drug addiction, see NIDA’s Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).

Revised February 2015.

Most drugs of abuse are addictive. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite negative consequences and by long-lasting changes in the brain. People who are addicted have strong cravings for the drug, making it difficult to stop using. Most drugs alter a person’s thinking and judgment, which can increase the risk of injury or death from drugged driving or infectious diseases (e.g., HIV/AIDS, hepatitis) from unsafe sexual practices or needle sharing. Drug use during pregnancy can lead to neonatal abstinence syndrome, a condition in which a baby can suffer from dependence and withdrawal symptoms after birth. Pregnancy-related issues are listed in the chart below for drugs where there is enough scientific evidence to connect the drug use to negative effects. However, most drugs could potentially harm an unborn baby.

A dissociative drug developed as an intravenous anesthetic that has been discontinued due to serious adverse effects. Dissociative drugs are hallucinogens that cause the user to feel detached from reality. PCP is an abbreviation of the scientific name, phencyclidine. For more information, see the Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs Research Report.

People drink to socialize, celebrate, and relax. Alcohol often has a strong effect on people – and throughout history, people have struggled to understand and manage alcohol’s power. Why does alcohol cause people to act and feel differently? How much is too much? Why do some people become addicted while others do not? The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is researching the answers to these, and many other questions about alcohol. Here’s what is known:

Drugs that cause profound distortions in a person’s perceptions of reality, such as ketamine, LSD, mescaline (peyote), PCP, psilocybin, salvia, DMT, and ayahuasca. For more information, see the Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs Research Report.

Psychoactive when taken in higher-than-recommended amounts. For more information, see the Cough and Cold Medicine Abuse DrugFacts.

An extremely addictive stimulant amphetamine drug. For more information, see the Methamphetamine Research Report.

A synthetic, psychoactive drug that has similarities to both the stimulant amphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. MDMA is an abbreviation of the scientific name, 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine. For more information, see the MDMA (Ecstasy) Abuse Research Report.

Plant grown for its leaves, which are dried and fermented before use. For more information, see the Tobacco/Nicotine Research Report.

A hallucinogenic tea made in the Amazon from a DMT-containing plant ( Psychotria viridis or Diplopterys cabrerana or other) along with another vine ( Banisteriopsis caapi ) that contains an MAO Inhibitor preventing the natural breakdown of DMT in the digestive system, thereby facilitating a prolonged hallucinatory experience. It was used historically in Amazonian religious and healing rituals and is increasingly used by tourists. For more information, see the Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs Research Report.

A powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. For more information, see the Cocaine Research Report.

Pain relievers with an origin similar to that of heroin. Opioids can cause euphoria and are often used nonmedically, leading to overdose deaths. For more information, see the Prescription Drug Abuse Research Report.

Solvents, aerosols, and gases found in household products such as spray paints, markers, glues, and cleaning fluids; also nitrites (e.g., amyl nitrite), which are prescription medications for chest pain. For more information, see the Inhalants Research Report.

A dissociative drug that is an herb in the mint family native to southern Mexico, Salvia divinorum. Dissociative drugs are hallucinogens that cause the user to feel detached from reality. For more information, see the Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs Research Report.


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